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PLUTO presented by Know Theatre of Cincinnati through Feb. 22.
PLUTO is Know’s first production as part of a National New Play Network rolling world premiere. Based on this outstanding production, Cincinnati audiences have much to look forward to, in the future. PLUTO is the kind of strong, imaginative, quirky, contemporary script that made Know one of my favorite groups back in their Gabriel’s Corner days.
Former Know Artistic Director Jason Bruffy returns to smartly direct his strong cast through this emotional piece.
Annie Fitzpatrick is near perfect as Elizabeth, a mother who is trying desperately to connect with her son, Bailey, before the reality of the outside world crashes in.
Wesley Carman does solid work as son Bailey. The attitude of the character was spot on, but Carman also gives the audience hints of the pain beneath. He and Fitzpatrick have good chemistry and are totally believable as mother and son.
Lauren Hayes does nice work as neighbor Maxine. Her latter scene was very strong and that confrontation was a highlight of the show for all involved. On opening night, to me, it did seem like the actress felt less comfortable in her first scene with Bailey. Also the backstage light threw her shadow onto the door’s window, so we could see her waiting outside. It was unclear to me if she was there listening to the action in the house, or simply waiting for her entrance.
Torie Wiggins brings a great ethereal energy to the stage as Cerebus, while she patiently waits for her master to arrive. Always involved in the moment, it was fun to get her character’s take on the unfolding events. My sight-line from the audience prevented me from seeing Cerebus sitting on stage when the lights initially came up. I was confused by the lack of action until Bailey’s first entrance. It wasn’t until Elizabeth’s entrance, when she acknowledge the dog, that I realized Wiggins was on stage.
The cast is complete with Ken Early as Pluto himself. Charming, well-spoken and dressed, understanding, but all business, Early easily commands the stage. He and Fitzpatrick have several great moments together. I did lose some of his dialogue in his quieter conversations upstage.
This script had some demanding elements in set, costumes and special effects. The production team met these challenges successfully. Great work Andrew Hungerford (scenic and lighting design), Doug Borntrager (sound design), Noelle Wedig (costume design) and Nick Koehike (technical director).
Overall a great night of theater that leaves you much to discuss on the drive home. Great job.
My rating: 4.5 out of 5
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